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Jan 30, 2009 09:58 PM

Bad Winterlicious Experience - Veritas

After reading a couple of decent reviews, my SO and I decided to head over to Veritas for lunch today. We were quickly seated and water came quickly and our waitress took our order. This was at around 12:30pm. Also in the dining room were two parties of 10, 2 tables of 3 and 3 tables of 2s including us, so in total, about 30 or so diners. Right when our orders were taken, none of the 30 diners had any food on the table. Let me repeat that, not a single diner had food, not even bread which seemed strange to us and it stayed more or less that way for the next 10 minutes.

15 minutes go by and we finally saw signs of food coming out of the kitchen, and it was for the table of 10, the appetizers were either a Corn Crusted Perch/Salad/Soup and most got the Perch, which looked pretty good. By this time, my SO and I realized that there are another 20 diners that need to be served before us and we start to worry. 10 more minutes go by and still no food, but the other table of 10 still haven't gotten theirs yet, so we really can't complain. That's when we got a glimpse of a small basket of bread that one table of 3 had and wondered why are we not at the very least be given bread to nipple on while waiting for half and hour for our apps. Once again, we look around, and other than that one table, no one else has bread, can't really complain once again. 1:00pm, our waitress comes over to apologize the wait and explains that their oven is broken and the apps should be coming very soon and finally drops off the basket of bread with some red bean paste. Hmmm...that's a first, oven happens to break on the first day of Winterlicious. Table of 10 finally get their apps and we're next. 1:05pm finally our apps come and it's decent at best which we polished off in less than a minute. Once again, for the next 20 minutes, the entire restaurant were without food and were all just sitting there waiting for the mains. One party of 10 decides to whip out a Toronto Star to read amongst themselves, the other group of 10 contemplated on whether they should take care of the bill first and pack desserts to go as there are clearly late from returning back to work. The table of 3 got out a couple of toonies to put more money for street parking. My SO and I were simply shaking our heads and glad we were not in a rush.

After another 10 minutes, our mains finally came Aged Cheddar Cheese Stuffed with Braised Berkshire Pork Shoulder and Seared Kyoquot Sound Sablefish on Herbed Red Quinoa Salad with Baco Noir Vinaigrette.

I enjoy fatty food and anything deep fried, but the grilled cheese seemed like it was two slices of toast dipped in oil, then deep fried, it was literally soaked in oil. The cheese was barely noticeable and there were no more than 3 little pieces of pork in between. I tried to pick around the bread but unfortunately there's nothing else in between for me to eat. My SO's fish was bland in my opinion but she didn't mind it and the herbed red quinoa salad tasted awful as it added nothing to the plate at all.

Another 15 mins before our desserts of cheesecake and creme brulee came. My SO and I are huge sweets fans and we have never not finished a dessert in any restaurant until today. The cheesecake was obviously sitting around for a while as we can see a film of 'oldness' on the surface while the creme brulee had a doughy texture. The brulee seemed like it contained flour and it was by far the worst thing we've ever encountered and we left both desserts unfinished despite the fact that I barely ate anything.

We quickly took care of the bill and got the hell out of there and let's say the entire room were on the same page as us.

To be fair, we understand that it's the first day of Winterlicious and I don't believe they've done it in the past. I also understand the wait time and being overloaded at the same time. I also understand that it's only $15 for a 3 course meal and all and I shouldn't be expecting too much. Nonetheless, there were so many things that they could have done to make the experience less painful and show a little respect to us paying customers despite its difficulties. I just don't understand the point of joining Winterlicious if you can't live up to a passable standard in terms of the food it's turning out. With tax and tip it came out to be $40 and it's not a small chump of change and I just hope that the restaurant understands that.

Let's hope that those of you that have Veritas booked have a different experience in a good way, but I must say that what we experience was the worst ever.

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  1. Veritas has participated in the past. Our one and only visit was for dinner at last years Winterlicious. The food was good but the kitchen was rather slow. We were one of the first reservations of the evening, 6:30-7pm, and the place slowly fulled to 3/4's full. The kitchen service was slow for the whole evening.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lister

      was there last night and I have to agree with what lister stated, good food but slow service. There were only 2 servers the entire night. The server seems to skip our table the entire night (no alcoholic beverages perhaps???). The server never came over and asked how the food was but seem to chat up a storm with the table right next to us (not that i care about people asking me how the food was but the difference in how we were being treated was just too obvious). By the end of night, I was planning on ordering a glass of espresso, but we were handed the bill right after they cleared our dessert plates.

      Will I ever go back?? Perhaps, if both the kitchen and wait staff can speed up the service and work in sync. I hate to see restaurants that use local ingredients going down due to management issue............

    2. Sorry that you had a bad experience. FYI we were at Oliver & Bonaccini on Thurs for Winterlicious, our choice was soup, Goulash & bread pudding (see menu on the Winterlicious site) and all was terrific, recommended>

      1. While I completely understand your issues with the service and a wait of that length is unacceptable, I have always had good experiences with the food at Veritas. It's right around the corner from my office so we lunch there often. I think I've actually had the fish dish you are describing (which was a sablefish on the red quinoa) and I liked the fresh vinegar/citrus kick of the side. Helped to balance out the very rich fish.

        Based on the number of times that I have been to the restaurant, I'd guess that there really was some issue in the kitchen that day. Sadly, that isn't going to make you feel any better about your wasted lunch...

        2 Replies
        1. re: jgloverwork

          Like I mentioned above, I totally understand that it was their first day of Winterlicious and were simply overwhelmed and swamped. But to be completely honest, the room was not completely full and I felt like with the simple menu they should have done a much better job in both speed and quality. On a regular day, I'm sure the quality would definitely be better, but there was simply no excuse for messing up creme brulee and a simple grilled cheese sandwich. I also didn't feel like the wait staff did nearly enough to make the situation any better. It's almost as if they felt like it wasn't their fault that the kitchen is slow and they really shouldn't feel sorry for our misery.

          Anyways, it is what it is and hope that Veritas does not screw up their reputation as a good resto that uses local ingredients because of Winterlicious, cuz I'm sure there are those like jgloverwork that enjoy it very much as a local joint.

          1. re: jgloverwork

            BTW, the restaurant changed the sable fish that was posted online to smoked rainbow trout. We were not notified about such change until we saw it in the menu. We looked over to the regular menu and saw it posted there.

          2. Our table was the one that pulled out the newspaper. I have to agree with the author that this has to be one of the worst experiences I've had at a restaurant. We were hit with having to wait over and hr to get the food, receiving extremely small portions and and having the food taste very bland to top it off.

            Highlights of our meal was "the fries were good"... and automatic 18% gratuity since we had 8+ at the table.

            1 Reply
            1. re: aesop

              My SO and I felt bad for your table as well as the other big table. You guys all looked quite frustrated hence I mentioned that I really can't complain as much as you guys probably had it worst than us.

              To be fair, the fries were decent. 18% is a big ouch.